Future models - Holden - Commodore

Holden’s 2020 vision

Rear admirable: Australia’s top-selling car for the past 13 years will continue to be developed with its current architecture for at least another decade.

Rear-drive Holden Commodore set to continue with new technology, smaller body

Holden logo31 Mar 2009


AUSTRALIANS will still be able to buy a traditional rear-wheel-drive Holden Commodore for at least the next decade, even though the General is turning to small-car production to survive as a local manufacturer.

Holden is already working on development of the next-generation Commodore, which is due in around 2013 and would be scheduled to run until at least 2020.

And the good news for enthusiasts is that it will again utilise the Zeta rear-drive platform developed at great cost for the current VE, which was launched less than three years ago in 2006.

The 2013 Commodore may be slightly smaller than VE, and almost certainly lighter, with a range of different engine options and new technology designed to make it more environmentally sound, including idle-stop and turbocharged four-cylinder and six-cylinder engines.

GM product chief Bob Lutz has said that, despite global economy mandates forcing GM to cancel programs in other countries, the rear-wheel-drive Commodore production will continue in Australia, including “the next-generation version”.

In the meantime, the VE Series II is set to arrive in early 2010 with significant new technologies.

Holden has already confirmed that all its engines will be E85 ethanol-compatible by 2010 and is also set to introduce a dedicated LPG Commodore with breakthrough liquid-injection technology that promises petrol-matching power and economy.

13 center imageLeft: Cadillac's direct-injection 3.0-litre V6.

Direct-injection is also on the cards for the standard 3.6-litre V6 petrol engine, which could improve both power and economy.

GM already produces a direct-injection version of this engine for Cadillac, which produces 225kW compared with the Commodore’s current 195kW, as well as an E85-compatible 3.0-litre version that matches the current Commodore V6 for power but has better economy.

The search for efficiency will also ultimately lead to Holden offering smaller turbocharged engines some time in the future. It already builds a 2.8-litre turbocharged V6 engine for Saab, and is understood to be testing a 2.0-litre four-cylinder turbo in a VE Commodore.

These programs could be at the expense of the expected hybrid and diesel-powered Commodore variants.

GM Holden managing director and chairman Mark Reuss has confirmed that the Commodore has a long-term future and work continues on the next-generation model.

Mr Reuss also said that a rear-drive platform is important for the Commodore, which has been Australia’s top-selling car for the past 13 years.

“The rear-wheel drive platform is sort of what Holden has been known for here and we expect that to continue,” said Mr Reuss.

“There’s still a great market for it here … so, as long as our customers keep telling us they want to buy our car, we’ll produce it.

“(A rear-drive platform) is something we’ve invested in already and it’s something I think we can just continue to refine and improve and bring it to different levels of efficiency. That’s what we’re focusing on.” Former GM Holden director and product planning chief Ian McCleave, in an interview with Wheels magazine, has also pointed to a likely refinement of the existing platform and a downscaling to reduce weight.

“With Commodore, there is opportunity to trim the car down, take some width and mass out … without losing the packaging efficiency and attributes that rear-wheel drive brings, which is handling, ride and styling proportions,” said Mr McCleave.

Mr McCleave said he could see the large and medium segment cars morphing, with the only distinction being front-wheel drive and rear-wheel drive. Ford is already blurring the edges with its similar-looking Falcon and Mondeo.

Although Holden’s embattled parent company has been forced to retreat from new global RWD large cars due largely to increasingly severe fuel economy and emissions standards, reports from the US suggest that the Zeta platform is safe there until at least 2016, with the Australian-developed Camaro likely to run to 2020.

GM engineers are said to be working on weight reduction and efficiency improvements, such as better aero and a standard six-speed automatic transmission, on all Zeta-based vehicles to keep the platform viable.

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